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The Role of Pacific Rim FTAs in the Harmonisation of International Investment Law: Towards a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific

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The paper observes that the fragmented international investment law regime is moving toward harmonisation. In the near future, five major agreements could govern a very substantial share of global investment: a United States-China bilateral investment treaty (BIT), a European Union-China BIT, and three mega-regional free trade agreements—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). There is also increasing convergence in state practice reflected in recent investment treaties.

Against this background, the authors argue that the Pacific Rim region is well placed to serve as the centre of gravity for further harmonisation. First, recent state treaty practice in the Pacific Rim reflects a significant — and increasing — amount of support for investment liberalisation. Second, investment law harmonisation in the region is expected to be achieved through regional free-trade agreements, rather than bilateral investment treaties. In particular, the TPP and the RCEP agreements can serve as pathways to a plurilateral Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) agreement—which potentially would include the United States, China, India, Japan, Korea, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and the 10 ASEAN states.

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